Maybe it’s a video of a jet tailing a mysterious craft performing improbable aerial feats. Maybe it’s an eerie pyramid seemingly hanging in the air above a naval facility. Maybe it’s relentless headlines about the imminent Pentagon UFO report.
Whatever it is, unidentified flying objects are the focus of a public mania in a way not seen since the 1990s, when The X-Files, the Phoenix Lights, and the Roswell crash anniversary helped sustain a veritable UFO feeding frenzy. The difference this time around is that we’re actually getting some hints from the U.S. government to set aside what Project Blue Book said — UFOs are real, and they are here.
“I’ve said before that ‘disclosure’ is a process; not an event,” Luis Elizondo tells Inverse. “And that process is already happening. We’re all living through it! What a time to be alive!”
Elizondo is among several public personalities who, in the past few years, have distinguished themselves as among the leading voices calling for “disclosure” — essentially, getting the U.S. government to fess up about unidentified aerial phenomena (aka, UFOs). It’s perhaps no surprise that Elizondo is in league with Tom DeLonge, a poster child of scatological SoCal pop-punk and now an evangelical alien truther. Elizondo was a co-founder of the for-profit To The Stars Academy of Arts & Science, which is DeLonge’s public outreach vehicle for deciphering the dark skies.
Elizondo claims some distinguished pedigree. He says he is the former head of the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, a U.S. Department of Defense research group established in 2007 at the apparent behest of aerospace CEO Robert Bigelow via his friends in Congress, including the late Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK), the late Senator Daniel Inouye (D-HI), and the now-retired Senator Harry Reid (D-NV). Some publications have disputed Elizondo’s involvement in the organization, however.
In Department of Defense terms, the program was small potatoes, with a budget of just $22 million — enough to run the department’s fleet of F-35 fighter jets for about two hours. Elizondo left the organization in 2017, he says, when the Pentagon proved reticent to release the program’s findings to the public.
But as a result of the media blitz (at least, in part) by Elizondo and others calling for the report’s release, it seems the time is almost nigh. Inverse asked Elizondo about a potential date for the report’s release, and what we might find in its pages.
“Unfortunately, I’m not at liberty to elaborate at this point, but both the media and Congress are taking this seriously, and that hasn’t always been the case,” Elizondo says. Indeed, the narrative has made it beyond the usual late-night radio circuit and onto the pages of the New York Times and The New Yorker.
“What I will say is that this is an evolving issue and the government is trying to get a handle on all the various ‘moving pieces’ as evident by the DoD Inspector General Evaluation which was just announced,” he adds.
When Inverse first reached out to Elizondo, his spokesperson said there was a media blackout until May 17. However, he agreed to an email interview later the same day. Below is the rest of the interview, edited for clarity.
Inverse: Why has this topic come to a head in the last few years? Does it come from within the intelligence community or from forces outside?
Elizondo: There has been an increase in support for transparency around the UAP [unidentified aerial phenomena] subject from both inside and outside government. We’re now living in a world where most in government who’ve been briefed on the full UAP portfolio immediately realize the seriousness of this subject.
“Secrecy and obfuscation haven’t served our best interest.”
Inasmuch as there is any pushback from within the IC (Intelligence Community), it stems from certain individuals who have backed themselves into a corner by willfully misleading the American people. Fortunately, these individuals are few and far between.
The reality of UFOs is no longer a stigmatized issue; it's fact and most of DoD and IC leadership believe it’s time for the truth to come out. They won’t be bound by the obfuscation made in past generations. Most of them want to stand up and do the right thing. I’d expect nothing less from this great nation I’ve sworn to protect and serve.
What has motivated you to both come forward now and become one of the faces of the current UFO movement?
I’ve got to be honest, I really don’t like being one of the “faces” of this subject matter. I’m a private person, and the public part of this job hasn’t been easy. By nature, I prefer the shadows. But I swore an oath to defend this country and our people, and right now, that means taking a stand in the interest of the American people.
“We are part of a bigger, more beautiful, more complex reality.”
What has been different about the media attention with UAPs as opposed to pre-2017?
I think the New York Times article in December 2017 had a big impact on the media landscape. We’ve shifted away from a social culture of ridicule. Science and academia now know the onus is on them to step up and take this seriously. The fact is, UAPs are real, and this raises questions that require an all-hands-on-deck approach for both our national security and the good of humanity.
It’s about time! Secrecy and obfuscation haven’t served our best interest. For good reason, responsible citizens look to experienced journalists when they’re trying to unpack complex subject matter.
Behind the scenes, there are countless journalists working quietly with insider sources and the FOIA process to uncover vital data. This process is in its infancy, but as doors continue to crack open, journalists will discover the wealth of highly technical collection capabilities that our military and intelligence services have been able to utilize to better understand these phenomena.
In a recent New York Post interview, you allude to “fear” on the part of the Pentagon. What is this fear rooted in? You mention “religious objections, concerns over tarnishing its own reputation and fears of inciting public panic” in the interview.
I think we’ll start getting more examples of this in the weeks and months ahead. But we’re seeing a shift! It’s been a while since I’ve heard a person of faith express fear about this. The Catholic church, for example, has embraced this subject head-on. It’s exciting!
This is not a discussion that opposes religion, and may ironically prove to bolster some religious ideals. Furthermore, many of the “Old Guard” at DoD who feared a challenge to their preconceived notions are slowly fading into the background. Many within our government realize we are part of a bigger, more beautiful, more complex reality.
I’m optimistic that this next generation of young people is fully equipped with the stamina and tenacity to explore not just outer space, but inner space, and even the space in between.
In your opinion, what is the most likely explanation for these crafts and why are military targets of particular importance?
The DoD and IC are under immense pressure to answer this very question. The American people deserve to know the answers that their tax dollars have paid for. Much of this information still remains under lock and key.
“This interim report merely represents the tip of the spear.”
Our duty going forward is to unlock some of those doors so that science and academia can apply rigorous study in a transparent, open way. We also have a duty to safeguard our national security. Our near-peer adversaries like China and Russia are working on these answers as well.
The technologies some of these UAP exhibit are truly extraordinary, and it is a dereliction of duty to downplay the significance of UAP and what they might mean for humanity.
What will the Pentagon report likely shape up to be? What work will need to be done afterward?
The 180-day report slated for June is likely to be an interim report and only the beginning of a more expansive effort to answer the hard questions:
- What are the capabilities?
- What is their intent?
- Where is it from?
- What does it want?
When we’re considering an extensive history dating back to at least the 1940s, and in some cases, different collection techniques utilized by different agencies, we quickly realize the immense task the [Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force] has before them.
“We’re just getting started.”
This interim report merely represents the tip of the spear, and I’m optimistic the American people will be prepared to charge forward when it’s made public.
What would you say to those who don't believe you, whether in the media or otherwise?
This has never been about “belief.” It's about facts. This is a complicated subject to get acclimated to. Much like on the battlefield, we can’t afford to leave anyone behind. We’re all in this together, and if that means holding the hands of our friends, families, and neighbors to guide them along the way, we should all be up for the challenge.
How many more videos might be released? Is there a timeline for their release?
In my opinion, the videos in the public sphere so far are some of the least compelling cases that our pilots, radar, and other advanced sensors have collected. And that should say something! I can’t comment on how many videos and comprehensive data the U.S. Government has in its possession, suffice it to say, we’re just getting started.
What sort of developments do you see over the next few years?
The future is bright! Perhaps it’s best to leave it at that for the time being.